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TRUCKOMAN Sponsors Sailing Competition

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Thu, 22 April 2010

This year's Four Points Race was eagerly awaited by the teams that had assembled from the Ras al Hamra Boat Club, Oman Sail, Castaways, and a lone team just returned from the Cape Point Challenge Open in South Africa from Dubai. In all, 23 teams had registered for this event and were preparing themselves for a 23 nm challenge race.

The event was sponsored by TruckOman and held at the Ras al Hamra Recreation Club for the third time. This is THE long distance race in the Oman racing calendar for beach cats. As the teams rigged their boats, a gentle north westerly wind began to fill in and raised expectations of some very interesting tactical racing.

Firstly with two fast long reaching legs from RAH bay to Fahal Island, then down to the Cardinal buoy in Qurm Bay, afterwards a punishing eight nautical mile beat to the furthest turning mark off the Castaways’ home sailing base at the Civil Aviation Club, and next a downwind return run back to the Cardinal buoy in Qurm Bay, which would enable the cats with spinnakers to search for that extra speed and spread the fleet. Finally a hook around the cliffs of Qurm back into RAH Bay. To cover the 23 nautical miles in a 4 to 6 hour anticipated race duration is real test of stamina and concentration that would surely prove to test cats and teams to the limit.

By 1120 hrs the wind had set enough to begin the starting sequences with two starts planned, one for the up to 16 feet catamarans and the other for 18 feet and above. The two starts being separated by 5 minutes created a very interesting pursuit start, and first and second legs. The teams settled into fine tuning their cats to the challenging conditions.

The first leg was a short beat to windward of 200m with a starboard rounding of the buoy and then north towards Fahal Island. First to the buoy and heading off towards Fahal Island were Alan Jones and Brian Stewart on a Hobie 16. The fleet settled down to an increasing wind, and began to hike out and then ultimately started to trapeze. Dave Clark and Birte Bjerkestrand on a Hobie 16 overhauled the lead boat led all the way to the Fahal Island and onto to the second leg down to the cardinal buoy in Qurm Bay.

With 18 footers now weaving their way through the fleet, it was only a matter of time before they would overhaul the 16 footers, first Tony Van Thiel and Johnny De Leeuw in their 20 foot Hobie Miracle and then Oman Sail with Ali Am Busaidi and Paul Wakelin in their Nacra Infusion F18, followed very closely by the Dubai team Conrad Schwindt and Eoin Waldron in their Cirrus F18 pulled ahead. The Dubai team decided to hoist their spinnaker on this leg and off they went riding high with their windward hull well clear of the water and double trapezing at over 15 knots - an awesome sight. Oman Sail, seeing their rival gaining considerable ground, decided to join in the fun and hoisted their spinnaker but only after a short run a equipment problem occurred so had to revert to a slower two sail reach. With this opportunity both David and Birte and Victoria Grainger and Susanne Solberg seized their opportunity with their Hobie 16s which are absolutely perfect for close reach sailing and sailed to leeward and windward of the Oman Sail team. The rest of the fleet worked their way around Fahal Island and started their thrilling ride down to the Cardinal mark in Qurm bay. As the wind progressively increased in strength it was cat sailing at its very best.

As the lead boats rounded the cardinal Qurm Bay buoy to starboard to begin their 8 nautical mile beat to the Castaways cardinal buoy, the wind toyed with the fleet, one by one the fleet rounded and had to squeeze each wind gust to their best advantage, the race was now truly on against the clock. With so many different types of catamarans on the water the race committee had adopted the Small Catamaran Handicap Rating System (SCHRS). This system calculates the performance of each catamaran and assigns each type of catamaran a handicap which is used to adjust the final elapsed time for each team, thereby enabling a result to be computed. A recording of each boats time as they rounded the Castaways Cardinal buoy was taken, elapsed times where corrected for handicap and at this stage and with a very good lead of 8 minutes was Tony/Johnny, followed by the two F18’s Ali/Paul and Conrad/Eoin just 1 minute apart, the first Hobie 16 of Victoria/Susanne another 5 minutes behind who were leading a pack of 7 Hobie 16s, all within 5 minutes of each other, very close racing indeed.

As the teams cracked opened their sails to start this 8 nautical mile downwind leg the spinnaker boats started to pull away as the minutes ticked by the wind began to ease, the 18 footers and above slowly, but very decisively pulled way in the dying breeze and managed to round the Cardinal Qurm bay buoy to port and head for the finish line before the wind died away leaving the rest of the fleet with a ghosting sail looking for every little puff of wind to help them along. This agonizing game of searching for wind took its toll and one by one the teams retired and requested a tow home. However four Hobie 16s battled it all the way to the finish. With 23 boats registered to start the gruelling day had taken its toll on the smaller cats with only 7 teams finishing the entire course. In the end the F18 of Oman Sail Ali Am Busaidi/Paul Wakelin took line honours with a time of 3 hours 45 minutes and 12 seconds setting a new course record, in second place and 21 minutes behind were the Dubai Team of Conrad Schwindt/Eoin Waldron and the first Hobie 16 to finish in 6 hours 27 minutes and 57 seconds, David Clark/Birte Bjerkestrand,.

With all teams safely back home the results where computed and a exuberant Ali Am Busaidi/Paul Wakelin of Oman Sail retained their title as overall Winner of the 2010 TruckOman Four Points Challenge Race and with the Nous Nous Award for the mid placed cat retained for a second year running by Ivan Gronland/Adam Hunkapiller of the Castaways.

Mr Lindsay Ogilvy the commercial director of TruckOman, presented the trophies and praised all teams for participating in this adventurous Challenge Race and wished all fair winds and is looking forward to another exciting race in 2011.

Article by Dave Clark